Hatteberg's People - The Lighthouse Library

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Sunday, January 22, 2011

On Hatteberg's People, through personal tragedy we persevere. We keep going, even when difficulty is the norm and dreams seem so far away. Lynn Pettigrew Norris lives in all those worlds. She lost a daughter in a car crash, fought depression and injuries from another accident but says moving forward is the key. Lynn and her husband Randy are hoping to start a library in Dexter, Kansas, a literal lighthouse on the prairie.

"If you are driving by on the street, to look at it, it looks just like an old historical building. It's the original Shadid store, the town's grocery store. Those are the original seats that I sat on as a kid waiting for my dad," said Lynn.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, Lynn and Randy are hoping to fulfill a dream of turning the old building into the Lighthouse Library to promote literacy and reading.

"If you go back and look, although it is sometimes overwhelming, from where we've started, we've gone leaps and bounds," said Randy.

The Lighthouse Library is silently dedicated to their daughter, Jennifer, who was killed in a car accident in the late 1990s. To the surprise of many, the couple added a lighthouse in the rear of the library.

"Some of our happiest days were on the ocean in Florida and North Carolina. We did visit Cape Hatteras as a family, and that is one of those 'frozen in time' days that I remember with four small children climbing around the lighthouse. The reason we have the lighthouse... it is a way for the local kids to learn about the ocean and to kind of interest them in travel and the ocean," said Lynn.

While they have come a long way, there is still a long way to go. Inside where the library will be, the dream is still being built. Up the stairs is where the computer lab will be while downstairs, sheet rock and insulation wait for knowledgeable hands. Four portholes on the outside of the building preview where a large fish tank will sit.

In back of the library, the Norris' have built a thrift store. Sales from that venture will help fund the library. A few feet away is a small cabin which can be rented to provide extra space for the towns visitors.

The Norris' estimate at least 200 people in Dexter have helped with the project. It's a lot to do and a lot to dream.

"What it is to me at this point, to be real honest, is a real burden," said Lynn.

But it's a burden they happily carry. Lynn has written two books detailing her family's life, including the tragedies and dreams, the good times and bad. Both Lynn and Randy are dreamers and for them the library will happen when it is time.

"People do what they can and I think we are getting close. I look forward to that day when we can open it up and just be a service for the community," said Randy.

It is difficult to get the library built on your own and with volunteers. If you would like to help with the Lighthouse Library, call 620-876-READ and leave a message. Many skills are needed.

Lynn will host a book signing Feb. 3 at the College Hill Coffee Shop. All proceeds will go to the library. The Lighthouse Library is a tax-deductible organization.

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